#53 - You Better (Apple) Watch It

Ariel Ariel
4 minute read Apr. 12

Have you ever looked at search results in the App Store and wondered why they're ranked the way they are? In this series of Keyword Teardowns we analyze how the algorithm works and highlight tips and tricks to help you rank higher.


#53 - You Better (Apple) Watch It

When you do ASO enough, you start seeing patterns that simply don't make sense. But the search algorithm – which is just code at the end of the day – bases its decisions on what it sees. So when things don't make sense, it usually means it looks at something you're not considering.

In this teardown we'll look at an example of that, and possibly a new item to consider for ASO in the App Store.

Keyword: Time tracking

27 low 75 high 4.9K moderate 95,853 very high

Time tracking is a sibling of time tracker, which I looked at in Keyword Teardown #36. It's not a super popular keyword, but with a tip from a reader, I noticed something very interesting I wanted to share.

Search results for "Time tracking" in the U.S App Store

In first place we have HoursTracker, which does everything* right. And by everything, I mean, there's no duplication. Yet, there are similar enough words, so the metadata targets a wider variety of keywords. With the most new ratings in this set, the algorithm can't do anything but lift it to the top.

The * is there because the keyword in this case comes in the subtitle and not the name, which isn't as ideal. But... None of the other serious competitors use it in the name, and it's the first thing in the subtitle, so it can get away with it.

I talk about how ASO is relative and what's good for your app is necessarily what's better than your competitors and no one else. This is a good example.


Monitor. Optimize. Grow

Get actionable insights in minutes!


In second place we have Toggl Track, which doesn't things slightly less good, but still alright. It splits the keyword between the name and subtitle and has an order of magnitude fewer ratings, but it's still where it belongs based on where the keywords are and its new ratings.

Below it, where things still make sense, we have Timeline, which uses the keyword right in the name, keeps it short, and has no duplication. Great! But... It got two new ratings in the last 30 days. Just two. That isn't a lot, and I'm being generous with words here.

Maybe the app below it has even fewer ratings?

Nope! In fourth place we have Quickbooks, a name you've probably heard before. It's not getting nearly as many new ratings as I'd expect given the brand, but 136 is still many many more than two, so what's going on?

Maybe it messed up its keyword placement? No. The keyword placement is identical to 3rd place. Yes, the app with only two ratings.

Put this on hold for a minute so we can finish with this set.

In fifth place, last for our set, we have what looks like a clone of the app that's in first, in terms of keywords at least. It's using the keyword right in the name, but duplicates the whole thing in the subtitle. Bad bad bad. With 35 new ratings, a quarter that of Quickbooks, the algorithm can't lift it any higher.

But wait! 35 is still more than two, so what's going on?

Are You (Apple) Watching It?

I was puzzled by this for a bit, but going off of a tip from a reader, I looked at which devices these apps are available on.

I'll save you my step-by-step and get right to it. The first three, where things make sense, are all available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The last two are only available for the iPhone and iPad. No watch.

Tip - You can see which devices an app is available for in the App Intelligence panel by clicking its icon from the results list. You can see a bunch more about an app there, but sandwiched right between the category of the app and its screenshots is the list of devices it's available for.

Interesting, right?

Does this definitively mean having a watch component improves your ASO? Not definitively, but it is something I'll be investigating to understand if it's a signal, and if so, how strong of a signal. Make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter for more on this, in case you aren't already.

And that's all I have for you today. Subscribe to the newsletter for a new Keyword Teardown next week. If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter.

Are You Putting My Tips to Good Use?

App Store Optimization is part art and part science. I say it a lot, and I mean it. The art part is what I've been talking about in this Keyword Teardown and in my App Teardowns. The science part is where our simple and intuitive ASO tools come into play.

See where your apps are ranked, track trends, learn from competitors, get smart suggestions, and more, here.

Tagged: #aso

Related Resources

#56 - The Key to Apple's Heart
Keyword Teardowns
#56 - The Key to Apple's Heart

The App Store rewards apps and games that leverage certain features over apps and games that don't.

#55 - Not Impossible (If You Know What to Do)
Keyword Teardowns
#55 - Not Impossible (If You Know What to Do)

Are popular and competitive keywords impossible to penetrate? Not really. Here's what you need to know.